Looking Ahead: Insourcing Market Research in 2011

Yesterday, we posted about market research predictions for 2011, and how Research Rockstar is collecting predictions via an IdeaScale crowdsourcing instance. There are now 33 active ideas on the site, spanning the market research industry with varying levels of focus, and even controversy. Probably one of the less controversial predictions – but one that is also more likely to come true – is that in-house research will expand dramatically in 2011.

My question to you is this: Does this expansion represent an exciting empowerment that opens market research to the masses, or the end of market research as we’ve come to know it?

Or both? New self-service market research solutions that empower polling, full surveys, crowdsourcing and more, are becoming more prevalent, more powerful, and less expensive as we speak. Any individual in any organization can easily create his or her own survey on any subject, mail it out to their constituents (or rent a sample list quickly), and analyze the results. For a few dollars more, they can even get help with the analysis.

But what are they loosing in the process compared to a traditional approach that leverages the skills and experiences of market research professionals? Obviously, a level of knowledge and understanding applied to the analysis, and an objective approach that presents data in as unbiased a way as is possible. Additionally, the level of skill required to design an appropriate study in the first place, to ensure that the data collected actually answers the question at hand. But, understandably, this is a much more expensive approach.

So as these turnkey solutions become more and more available and less and less expensive, where is the line for the end-user? When is a self-service market research model the appropriate choice, versus seeking the counsel of experts who conduct research for a living? Is the decision based on the importance of the question to be answered? The number of people who need to answer it? The size of the organization? Or something else altogether?

I really want to hear your thoughts on this. Please leave your comments here, or head over to the discussion on the Market Research Predictions IdeaScale site to add your vote and your thoughts.

About Joshua Hoffman

Joshua Hoffman is Technology Specialist at Microsoft and a frequent contributor to Research Access.

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